At the heart of just about any non-profit is the time and energy of selfless volunteers. Without volunteers, many non-profits would simply not be able to exist. Volunteers are the feet on the ground, making things happen and paving the way to make a difference for those less fortunate.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many volunteers and non-profits have had to get creative in how they deliver their hours of service.
One volunteer who hasn't let COVID-19 get in his way is Kristofer Kautz, a customer service manager at Salt River Project. Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House is a way for him to honor his cousin Desiree Rodriguez, who passed away from cancer at age 25.
"I thought the best way to give back to her would be to follow what she was doing in Texas and I'm doing it here in Arizona," says Kautz.
Kautz is one of 5,500 employees at SRP who give their time to non-profits across our state.
"Even in these times we are able, but virtually," he adds.
Since he can't volunteer in person, Kautz is writing "love notes" to cancer patients and their families. But Jen Martyn, who coordinates volunteers at SRP, says the love notes aren't the only things SRP's employees are doing.
Some are making face masks for Phoenix Children's hospital and others are sending thank you letters to front-line workers. Others are making what is called "Book in a Bag."
"A lot of children don't have an at-home library, which right now is really important," says Martyn.
"Book in a Bag" is a program where volunteers buy a new book for a child in kindergarten through third grade and have it delivered in a specially decorated brown bag.
"And they are decorating the bag with the theme of the book or a character, that way it's more engaging," adds Martyn.
The dedicated long hours done even remotely are not only keeping things going at these non-profits. After 25 volunteer hours logged, SRP gives the non-profit money for the hours delivered and donated by its employees. Kautz has already logged nearly 100 hours at the Ronald McDonald House.
"Just remember, right now you are able to volunteer. Tomorrow, you may be the recipient needing others to help," says Kautz.